The promotional campaign by Careem, the transport company, operated online, about having a Rishta aunty on an exclusive ride to find a life partner has raised eyebrows among the liberals and the conservative alike. For the former, it is tantamount to strengthening patriarchy, and to the latter, it is a shameful act for a girl to find her husband through an aunty who is unknown and who might land their daughters in wrong hands. The question is do we need a middleman or an aunty to tie the knot? Marriage is an important institution. There should not be any two opinions on this. Not that I am trying to reinforce the maxim, but going by the nature of human species, comfort can only be derived from relations adjoined by blood ties. Or by a relationship that has earned the endorsement of society. Marriage is one such relation. So much so that gay couples have fought for their right to marry, which is an endorsement from society to live together. However, the way marriages happen depend on the type of culture people live in. For centuries in this part of the world, parents have been hunting partners for their daughters and sons. A marriage in Sub-continental culture is more of a beginning of a new relationship between two families. It does not matter if the couple has a similar mind-set or are comfortable with each other or are inclined to stay together for the rest of their lives. What is important is the ability of the two families to get along. If parents from both families click it is assumed that the couple would click as well. It is also thought that, in case of marital problems, the parents could rescue the marriage from falling apart, because of their common endorsement to the wedding in the first place. Even today when women have liberated themselves from many taboos, they are still considered victims of societal norms that tend to marginalise them. One such pattern is finding a good Rishta for a girl. In the process to find a good proposal, the mental agony of facing rejections or comments on her physical appearance leaves deep marks on her personality. Indirectly, she is being told that her entity is just not a cause to celebrate. A large segment of society is still hitched to the concept of a girl who is fair, tall, and soft-spoken, an exceptional cook and somebody who could unite the family. Education obviously is a must and some families today do not mind if she could become an earning hand to supplement their son’s income. The concept of a middleman is not alien to marriage. Many websites are devoted to this cause. However what makes Careem’s Rishta Aunty different is that it has brought the selection process of finding the right match from the drawing room to an open space In the midst of all this, a woman just has to be lucky, to find a good match or good in-laws, hence goes the blessing every girl is showered with, as soon as, she is born “Allah Naseeb achay kary” (May she be blessed with a good husband and good in-laws). Right from day one, a girl is induced with the notion that her life’s success entirely depends on her fate to get a good life partner. No doubt a good life partner is important for a happy marriage but making a woman dependent on the assumption that life ends and begins with this notion is treacherous and makes her a pawn in the hands of fate. The Rishta aunty could be an alluring marketing strategy given the kind of desperation that is prevalent in society about finding a good match especially for girls, but it does not liberate society from wrong assumptions held about marriages: which is an end to itself. As if morning shows were not enough to develop a certain culture around marriage such as expensive dresses, elaborated functions, grand celebrations, the Rishta aunty has arrived to reinforce that marriage is one of the most significant segments of one’s life and if it is not done in a particular way life could go topsy-turvy. The concept of a middleman is not new or alien to finding a marriage partner. Many websites are devoted to this cause. However what makes the Rishta aunty different is that it has brought the selection process of finding the right match from the drawing room to an open space. Other than that, it is not a welfare activity but a campaign to get extra customers. In a well-regulated society, the administrative arm of the government supervising transport and traffic rules would have intervened to find out about the quality of the women appointed by Careem as Rishta aunties. Young girls are exceedingly using Careem to commute, how safe are they if they try a ride with Rishta aunty. Maybe it is time to reset our values, vis-à-vis some important dimensions of our lives such as marriage so that we have satisfied families where healthy minds are brought up. The writer is a journalist she can be reached at email@example.com Published in Daily Times, July 26th , 2017.